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Food security felt by lockdown

The biggest impact of the lockdown is being felt by the vulnerable sections, especially unorganized workers, due to their inability to access basic food and basic nutrition. So to support these vulnerable sections, the Government of India recently announced an economic package consisting of a free supply of five kg food grains and one kg pulses, in addition to the five kg food grains that they already receive at a subsidized price.
This provision is not sufficient to meet the food security needs of the country. Because this has been made available only to BPL and APL families who possess a ration card. The government has ignored the fact that many migrant workers and vulnerable sections do not possess the required documents and hence, they would be excluded from the benefits of this key. That this food security package excludes several other essential items such as oil, salt, sugar, and even soap, which is very essential to fight COVID19. And we should also note that these provisions are insufficient, and the earlier provision of five kg food grain is still not free, and it is available to the beneficiaries only at a subsidized price. The government has forgotten the fact that many migrants and daily wage workers from the unorganized sector have lost their jobs due to the lockdown and they may not be in a position even to pay the subsidized price. For universal food rationing to ensure the food security of India's vulnerable sections, especially during times of disasters and emergencies. Food Security can be insured during such times of crisis only when adequate food stocks have been rationed. Only when they are distributed universally without discriminating between the beneficiaries based on documents.  Few examples from the past illustrate how universal food rationing works. See, during the Second World War, the United Kingdom provided for universal food rationing. Through this program, the United Kingdom provided for all essential food items, and not just the basic grains and as a result, the nutrition and health status and life expectancy of the citizens went up despite having faced the Second World War. Then the British government in India as well provided for universal food rationing from 1942 and as a result, the food security of Indians improved in six major industrial cities. Then post-independence, India launched the ambitious public distribution system, which initially provided for universal coverage between the mid-1960s right up until 1991. But as India went through a balance of payments crisis in 1991, it decided to introduce LPG reforms, some of which were mandated by the IMF and as a result, India started rolling back the universal nature of PDS. From then onwards, the PDS system was reformed to provide only for targeted delivery to BPL and APL families based on ration cards. But our experience with targeted delivery of services has always shown that it results in a lot of leakages and corruption and it also results in the exclusion of many genuine beneficiaries because they may not possess the required documents. Over the years, India has been providing food security through the National Food Security Act, the PDS system, midday meals, and the Integrated Child Development Services scheme, but still, it lacks complete coverage, and many people get excluded even during times of disasters and emergencies. To draw a lesson from China and the state governments of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Delhi. As the  COVID19 pandemic started to spread in China. The National Development and Reform Commission, which is the equivalent of India's Planning Commission or NITI Aayog,  worked with various public and private organizations to provide for universal food rationing. This ensured that China was in a position to provide for all essential food items to the people, especially the weaker sections even during the lockdown period. Then after the outbreak occurred in India, the state governments of Kerala Tamil Nadu and Delhi have been implementing a universal food rationing system and they have even set up community kitchens especially in urban areas to provide free cooked food to migrant workers. As well as to other weaker sections. This relief package is insufficient, and hence, the Government of India should come up with an expanded food rationing system that can bring relief to all the people during this pandemic.


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